The Urban Daddy: Back from family vacation. Europe V4.0.


So we have returned from our annual family vacation – I’m back at work, the kids have one week left before school starts, and my wife has the absolute pleasure of coordinating the back to school festivities.  Dentist appointments, vaccinations, clothes, shoes, school supplies, and most importantly, scheduling!

Forget the programming of extra-curricular activities and sports programs, because that is just going to have to wait… So many commitments, and such little precious time.

You get it!

But normally, I do not like to speak publicly about personal matters, however this summer’s vacation is worth sharing not because of what we did, but because of how we did it.

This was our 4th summer in Europe.  As a family.  We plan the trips in October / November and in the summer we pack as little as possible into backpacks, and we go and explore the world.

Since we are a family of 5, staying in a hotel is not a viable option, so we resort to using Air BnB’s so we have choice of location, a kitchen and sometimes other exciting amenities, such as a pool.

With the kitchen we avoid the costly dinners out and instead hit up local grocery stores and eat breakfast and dinner we’ve made ourselves and if we decide not to pack lunch, we can eat out before heading back for a siesta.

This summer took us to Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, and London with many stops along the way via the train, or the car we rented for a week.

We don’t have a home base for the entire trip, instead we stay in places for anywhere from 2-5 days before moving on.  Each new country, city, town bring a new experience and the excitement of a new place which might be better (or worse) than the previous one.

We’ve yet to be disappointed.

I’d say after 5-years of family travels, the one disappointing place we stayed at was in Rome 2-years ago which was in a fabulous location, but the Air Conditioning didn’t work and it was during a hot spell, where the average temperature was 45 degrees Celsius.

This year also represented the first year that our bags were lost during a transfer at airports, and our bags were lost twice, the final time, only 3 of our 5 bags made it home.  The final bag arrived 3 days after us.

Kudos to my wife for planting the seed of travel into our kids.  Imagine taking a 4-year-old back-packing as we did 3-years ago, through Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam and Belgium.  She was an absolute trooper.  No strollers, just walking, looking at art, and enjoying ourselves.

Now at the ripe age of 7, she’s a pro.

I encourage parents to explore travel with their children to introduce them to how the rest of the world lives.  Sure, we had gone on a family cruise before, and we took the kids to Disney, but before we headed overseas, we explored the East coast of Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI – to see if we would do driving trips overseas and after that success, we took the plunge.

I love that my oldest can easily navigate the Paris Metro, or the London Underground.  Even the Seville Metro and Brussels subway pose no issues with him.  Our middle child has found an appreciation for art, museums, and the food and drink that other places have to offer.  He’s in his element wherever he is, and that warms my heart.

Our youngest, my daughter… Such a trooper, and with a strength in languages, she enjoys what we all enjoy… the sites, the food, the language… the experience.

As someone who had to find ways to cope with some significant undiagnosed anxiety in my life, the travel bug has bitten me and I look forward to the flights, train rides, and bus, tram and subway rides because of what they bring.  New experiences, new adventures and quality family time!

For those who knew of our travels, we appreciated the texts and messages as we were in Barcelona one week before that horrible murderous act by a group of criminals.  We were on the exact stop where the van came to rest.  We also were at Buckingham Palace in London a day before some mentally unstable resident showed up with a 4-foot sword there.

But it’s great to be back home, back in Canada, back to the greatest country in the world.

 

 

 

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I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know… I Just Don’t Know…


If you have kids, then I trust that the following will make complete sense to you.  Why is it that we have to ask children multiple times for something without getting so much as a grunt, yet the second we sit down to relax, they fire out question after question and demand answers immediately?

Last week, while trying to watch basketball, hockey and baseball before bed time, Stewie fired out a whole string of random questions.  I captured as many as I could.

Dad…

How old is DeMar Derozan?

How tall is Kyle Lowry?

How can Kendrys Morales play 1st base if he’s a DH?

Do we have just 2 point guards tonight, Dad?

Who scored the most goals ever in a NHL game?

What was the highest score in a HNL game ever?

Is Conor McDavid the captain of the Oilers?

(YES!  I knew this one!!)

In the 3rd quarter of the basket ball game – is there another quarter in the game?  My hockey games only have 3 quarters.

Is Yoda the first Jedi?

Do they use just one basketball the entire game?

If a ball ends up in the stands, do the fans get to keep it?

What happens if the entire baseball team gets injured, like at once, like if an asteroid fell into the stadium and only landed on one team?

Does the game continue?

Who plays for that team? The manager?

Why is hockey in arenas and baseball in stadium?

Why is the Canadian flag red and white?

What happens if you’re late for a game?

How much is the biggest house in the world?

Can we get a pool?

What time is bed time?

….

Then I got tired and stopped typing.

It could have been worse.  It could have been in the car.  lol.

Likely the only reason hockey was not fun yesterday!


Hockey is fun.

Taking my son to play hockey is fun.

Watching him learn the game is fun.

Even watching him skate back-and-forth over and over again while the coach blasts his whistle way too loud, is fun.

When the kids beside him forgets to bring his hockey helmet, then borrows my phone and calls / texts everyone in his family / that he knows before finding his helmet (in his bag) and then heads onto the ice leaving me to field calls from strangers… is NOT fun.

How do you miss a helmet in a hockey bag?!?

 

Family Day, President’s Day and a Birthday


Hectic last few days here in The Urban Daddy household with Family Day yesterday and, ahem, my birthday, today.  The only significance here in Canada about President’s Day is that our friends and family south of the border get to see how we Canadians, at least here in Ontario get to enjoy 15 degree (60 degree fahrenheit) weather in February!!!

I hate my birthday.  I love celebrating other people’s but hate the attention.  I also find my birthday to be very emotional when hundreds of people take the time on Facebook, LinkedIn, and through email to take the time to wish me well on my birthday.  I wish that I could do the same to each and everyone on their special day, and I wish I could personally thank everyone for taking just a moment out of their equally hectic day to send me a greeting.

To everyone who did, you are incredible people and I’m thankful to know you.

To those who wanted to but couldn’t / didn’t get around to it, I am equally thankful that you took a second of your day to think about me.

To those who thought about me today, or tomorrow, or the next day, I appreciate the thoughts, and you rock!

My birthday reminds me of a friend from ball hockey, who has only 6 posts on his Facebook page over the last 6-years and it was me, every year wishing him a happy birthday.  I actually ran into him, and he said that he doesn’t use Facebook, but he got the message each and every year and it meant a lot to him that I took the time to write something even though there was no activity from the previous year(s).

Hey… Everybody needs to be loved, just a little, right?!?

Oddly enough my birthday today started with cards and hugs and kisses from my kids (that really was all that I needed), but then my wife and kids blew me away by giving me a paid of green glass cufflinks that I saw in Murano (or Burano) Italy last summer, that they bought for me.  I love the colour green and I wear cufflinks and it was the most thoughtful and kind gift I could have received.  My wife rocks!!!

Then… Our former Nanny, and part-time house cleaner came at, 8am, with a chocolate cake and after I blew out the candles, we ate cake – I guess our new family tradition!

A fun way to start a birthday, and another hectic day.

So how did you celebrate Family Day / President’s Day?

We were going to go to the Auto Show, but headed to our neighbours for brunch and ping pong (I LOVE ping pong!!!) and then came home and everyone got to work.  My wife had marking to do, the boys worked on their science fair projects and my daughter finished up her Spirit of Math homework and prepared for her Spirit of Math test that evening.

Factors, Prime and Composite numbers, perfect squares… Phew.  I’m re-learning so much!  Thankfully both my boys are really strong in math, the eldest incredibly brilliant in math and they were able to assist her where needed.

Toss into that day, some hockey skills, and the 2 previous days of hockey and swimming and it made for a busy, busy weekend, without the opportunity to go anywhere special other than to see family and friends, and to hang out with the family.

Now it’s back to work, and off to a great start to the week.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

“Super”Bowl Thoughts from my Kids


We watched most of the Super Bowl yesterday which would represent a first for my middle and suddenly sporty son.  He has had zero interest in football prior to yesterday – and to be honest – he watched it because of the commercials and the Lady Gaga half-time show.

Here are his thoughts of the game;

  1. Why don’t they show the commercials here in Canada?  What a scam!
  2. If the NFL is worried about concussions, why do they allow players to hit someone head first.  If they were really concerned, they would toss all players who hit with their heads, or hit someone in the head.
  3. NFL does not stand for “No Farting League” as I told his sister.  I suggested “No Farting Ladies” but my wise 7-year-old countered with “No Farting Lads”!
  4. When asked who would win, he said “New Zealand”.
  5. When asked which state Boston is in, he said “New York”.
  6. After realizing that Ottawa was in Ontario, he wondered out loud if Canada consisted of Ontario and Quebec – to which I said; “And that is why Western Canada hates Toronto, my son!”  Plus we’ve all been to the East Coast of Canada.
  7. Why is Tom Brady’s wife cheering into her cell phone – taking selfies instead of celebrating with the rest of the people in the press box?
  8. Lady Gaga was incredible!  On the roof, jumping from the roof, singing, not singing, all in those high-heels.  She totally rocked and was a true highlight of the night.
  9. He felt because the game was played in a neutral location (Texas) the sounds from the stands sounded canned and phony.  He said they might as well have played the game in an empty stadium and played a cheering sound track along with the game.
  10. Why does the NFL need their championship trophy to be “Super”?  Why is the Stanley Cup not named the Super Cup and why does the winning team receive the Vince Lombardi trophy when they win???  Where is the bowl???
  11. Why isn’t there a team in Toronto?
  12. Since no team had even overcome a 10-point deficit and there had been no overtime games in the league’s 51-year history, and with New England (or New Zealand, New York) losing 28-3 at half-time – my kids assumed it was over for the Pats.  Upon learning of the Falcon loss, my son’s response was the always classic, “Whoa!”.
  13. Upon hearing that Tom Brady was being regarded as the best quarterback in the history of the NFL, my son quipped; “I think he is, because he’s the only quarterback I know, and he won the game.”
  14. Where are the damn commercials???

 

So I think this was a success, and even though he doesn’t know all the rules, or where the teams play, him, his sister and their older brother enjoyed the half-time show more than anything.

“Can you take me to a concert?” was the post-game cry from the kids…

… and sign me up for lacrosse.

Only in Canada, eh?